You have heard of the term VUCA: the world has become more V(ulnerable), U(ncertainty) is higher, there is more C(omplexity) and A(mbiguity) – in short. VUCA. While these 4 letters are spelled out easily the implications of the dynamics behind it is far greater. Traditional models of management and leadership have shown to be less and less effective.
In the last century the belief that structured the view of the world was mechanistic. It derived from observing (steam) machines and people at work were seen just as any other resource in the company that had to be planned and managed. That worked well when the rate of change in the world was slow and therefore the need for innovation low. Old management models and styles will not solve todays and tomorrows challenges.
Most of the people engaged in the workforce have been brought up in a school system with a traditional mechanistic view. The ones that learn best “by heart” and are the most compliant get rewarded. But to be successful in a VUCA world – todays world – one needs more than be good at “doing what has been done or is expected”. The concept of how we analyze the world and create the future is changing from mechanistic to network. Such shifts are nothing new and have been well documented. Whenever a new technology has revolutionized the lives of many the new technology has become the role-model not just by means of creating value, but also shaping the way we think. What makes change so difficult, that at the root it is about leaving the old thinking model and transforming to a new one – one which is mainly influenced by the connectedness of the internet. That is why trying the “old management models and prescriptions” over and over again is not going to bring the results needed, because at the core it is still the same mental model.
Often it is said that if things were so bad, why are we still making money and that there is improvement. And while there is some truth to this, this perception is also the main problem: Because there is some minor improvement the conclusion is that a) things are not as bad as everybody says and b) that the choices made have been correct. However, this is deceiving. In a transitional phase the old behaviors and management operating systems still work – but with less and less efficiency. Meanwhile, the competing new models that are based in the new thinking models are developing but not yet perceivable.
The opportunities are tremendous for those that act fast and adapt to the new digital thinking model! While some wait and hope that they will see the future clearly, others realize that this behavior is from the old world. Today it is about making meaning, engaging the whole workforce and therefore tapping into group intelligence – this will lead to an agile company that is able to grow into the digital age and come out stronger than ever.
The companys that have been disrupted in the last 20 years have one commonality: they knew that change and innovation was around the corner but were unable to act and transform into a new direction. “More of the same – but with more effort!” lead to their decline. You are looking for “lessons learned”? When you change how people think about the future, unite them towards a common purpose, align everyone around this and empower them – and if you know that you need an architect for this, then you are already under way to succeed!